Branch8 (YC S15) Helps Merchants Sell Across Asia's Many E-Commerce Platforms

In the United States, the e-commerce market is largely dominated by a few key players. But in Asia, there are multiple online marketplaces and no clear dominant leader. Merchants looking to optimize their sales in Asia need to list their products across multiple sites, which is a lot of work and maintenance.

Branch8 is a company that takes care of all that work. Launching this week out of our Summer 2015 class, Branch8 has built a platform that helps sellers easily list and manage products on the wide variety of e-commerce marketplaces in Asia.

TechCrunch's Jon Russell wrote about Branch8 in an article published this week:
"Branch8, which is based in Hong Kong, is part of Y Combinator's current Summer 2015 class. It opened the doors to its service on an invite-only basis back in May, but today it is now publicly available to all merchants. Chan told TechCrunch that, right now, Branch8 has nearly 1,000 sellers (and over 600,000 products) who are processing over $1 million in sales per month on its platform.

Beyond consolidating the basic processes beyond selling via multiple services — Amazon, Lazada, Rakuten, eBay and Jumia are among the initial platforms supported — Branch8 also provides analytics to track traffic, it automates price checking and product migration, and connects to third-party logistics services. Those value-adds, [Branch8 CEO Elton] Chan said, are where it believes it can really stand out for merchants.

'Our differentiator is analytics,' he told TechCrunch in an interview. 'Few tools track traffic via SKU. While our price tracking tool and the convenience of migrating to new platforms, this process is very manual, are specifically designed to meet merchants’ pain-points.'"

Read the full story on TechCrunch here, and additional coverage on Tech In Asia here.

SourceDNA (YC S15) Helps Developers Make Their Apps Faster, Better, And More Secure

There are a number of tools out there aimed at helping developers improve their apps. But for the most part, they're focused on detecting crashes or performance problems after they occur.

SourceDNA is a startup in our current class that has created a private app review service called Searchlight that helps developers improve their code and address security flaws before they cause problems for users. Searchlight also provides proactive monitoring, continually scanning iOS and Android apps and generating intelligence from an index of millions of binaries to keep developers updated on new potential issues.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about SourceDNA and Searchlight this week:

"Available in both free and paid versions, Searchlight gives developers a better look into what could potentially go wrong with their app.

SourceDNA chief executive Nate Lawson cited an example of Searchlight’s potential: when Google replaced OpenSSL in Android M, there was a private API in use that wasn’t intended for use by apps. Apps using this API ran the risk of eventually crashing as a result. Lawson provided VentureBeat with a partial list of apps that are affected: UC Browser (over 100 million installs), Waze (at least 50 million installs), HBO Go (more than 5 million installs), and Modern War (more than 10 million installs). More than 3,000 people signed up for Searchlight after the company published details about this issue.

The point here is that Searchlight allows developers to proactively improve their apps without worrying about problems that may crop up in the future, freeing them to concentrate on providing the best user experience possible."

You can read the entire VentureBeat article here, and see the related discussion on Hacker News here.

Xfers (YC S15) Wants To Be The Go-To Payment Platform For South East Asia

Collecting payments and making online purchases in South East Asia can be challenging, as credit card penetration in the region is relatively low, with many consumers preferring to use cash.

Xfers is a startup launching out of our current Summer 2015 that aims to solve these problems, providing businesses in South East Asia with the ability to collect both credit card and internet banking payments, and letting customers make purchases online using only their phone number.

At the moment, Xfers is launched in Singapore, and plans to expand to other locations throughout South East Asia in the coming months.

Tech In Asia's Michael Tegos wrote about Xfers in a recent post:

"Xfers founders Victor Liew, Wenbin Tay, and Tianwei Liu wanted to tackle this area after experiencing first hand the difficulties of such transactions. The two NUS (National University of Singapore) graduates were working in Silicon Valley, at Quora and Amazon. Part of a large community of Singaporean engineers working in California’s Bay Area, they were frequently asked by friends back home for items that were easier to find in the US.

But when payment time came along, there would be all sorts of problems. They’d have to chase people for payment, relay their bank account information, manually log in to their account every time to see if the payment came through, and manually keep track of who sent them what.

Like many a startup, Xfers was born after someone said, 'There has to be a better way!'"

Read the full story on Tech In Asia here.

Markhor (YC S15) Makes Handcrafted Luxury Shoes For Half The Price Of Top Brands

More than $15 billion worth of luxury shoes are purchased worldwide each year. But often, the bulk of that money goes to the brand middlemen, while the actual craftsmen live on less than $5 a day.

Markhor is a company in our current Summer 2015 class that's disrupting that system. Markhor contracts directly with the same craftsmen who make shoes for some of the top European brands, pays them up to 5 times more, cuts out the middlemen, and passes on 50% in savings to the final customer.

TechCrunch's Christine Magee wrote about Markhor in a story published this week:
"When you purchase a pair of Markhor shoes, you are immediately looped into the production, and you receive periodic updates about the craftsman’s progress. When the shoes arrive, included in the box is a profile of the craftsman responsible, [Markhor co-founder Waqas] Ali says, which also tells you how much he makes.'People like to know that these shoes are not made by a child or a pregnant woman in China,' says Ali. 'When you’re buying high-end shoes from big brands, there are so many layers that you don’t know where the shoes are made.'

Ali says that Markhor is currently working with 75 craftsmen in Pakistan, and plans to scale up as needed.

'There are thousands of craftsmen like this in Pakistan, and if you include India and Africa, where we plan to expand our production, there are millions,' he says."

Read the full story about Markhor in TechCrunch here.

YC Digest - 8/7-8/13

Top Stories from the YC World - August 7-August 13, 2015

YC News
A Conversation With Y Combinator’s President Sam Altman

Presumption of Stupidity by Aaron Harris

Projects and Companies by Sam Altman

YC S15 Launches
Auro Robotics Is Testing A Driverless Shuttle System On College Campuses

bitcodin Encodes Videos 100X Faster, At Netflix-Grade Streaming Quality

Branch8 Lets Merchants Sell Via Multiple E-Commerce Sites With Fewer Headaches

Convox Makes It Easier For Companies To Use AWS

L. Condoms Provides Safe Sex, On-Demand

Markhor Takes The Middleman Out Of Designer Shoemaking

MicroHealth Helps Manage Treatment For Patients With Chronic Illnesses

Nebia, a Shower Head Start-Up, Receives Funding From Timothy Cook of Apple

OnboardIQ (YC S15) Helps Companies Screen And Hire Their Workforces

With the rise of an increasingly fluid workforce, the way that many companies build and manage their teams is more complex than ever. Companies in the service economy today see an average 50% no-show rate to interviews, as many candidates have several jobs at the same time -- and even once applicants have been vetted and hired, many of them move on in less than a month, and the company has to start all over again.

OnboardIQ is a company in our current class that provides tools for operations and recruiting teams to build and manage a workforce, automating the screening and hiring workflow. The result is that companies can spend significantly less time and money on the hiring process, while keeping quality standards high.

Business Insider's Nathan McAlone wrote about OnboardIQ in a story published this week:
"'Sharing economy workers switch jobs, and work multiple jobs in a given week or even day,' [OnboardIQ co-founder Keith Ryu] says. The high turnover means that sharing economy companies have to be constantly bringing workers into the fold. This can be an immense burden, especially for a small company. OnboardIQ wants to make easier.

...OnboardIQ’s system automates scheduling phone interviews and orientations. It moves applicants through a series of 'stages,' reminding them of their various commitments primarily via SMS, which Ryu has found more effective than email. Among the over 100,000 steps OnboardIQ claims it automates are background checks and document collection — I9 forms, contracts, etc.

...When Ryu talks of expansion, he speaks of moving outside the 'on-demand' niche. Those companies — like heavyweights Shyp and Munchery  — have so far been OnboardIQ’s bread and butter, but there is no reason why the service couldn’t work equally well for any company with a large and transitory workforce."

Read the full story on Business Insider here.

Bizzy (YC S15) Helps E-Commerce Brands Send Fewer, Better Emails

E-commerce brands don't actually want to annoy you with their frequent mass email campaigns -- though that's often the effect.

Bizzy is a company in our current class that helps e-commerce companies send fewer, better, more effective emails, without the need for a big budget or a marketing department. Bizzy's platform determines if and when to send an email to a certain person, depending on the likelihood that they will make a purchase, and formulates the most effective message to target the customer's habits.

Bizzy's clients boast as much as 1200% better sales than they had with other email marketing platforms, while sending 60 percent fewer emails.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Bizzy in a story published this week:

"The process starts when the ecommerce brand plugs in the customer database to Bizzy. From there, Bizzy puts those customers into various buckets, ranging from folks who signed up to be on the email list but have never purchased to folks who made a purchase yesterday to people who haven’t made a purchase in a few months.

Based on their various buckets, customers receive different campaign emails with copy that fits their customer life cycle. Bizzy generates the copy for their clients, giving them the ability to edit that in any way or send it off as is."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

Sywork (YC S15) Is The Twitch For Illustrators And Artists

The cliché goes that life is about the journey, not the destination. The same could be said for artwork. A lot of emphasis is placed on the final product of artists and illustrators, but if you're lucky enough to see the process that went into creating it, it can be just as satisfying.

Sywork is a company launching out of our current class that lets artists and illustrators host a livestream video of themselves at work, in the same way that Twitch lets people watch broadcasts of gamers in action. Since going live just four weeks ago, Sywork is attracting an audience of thousands of viewers from more than 115 countries around the world.

TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff wrote about Sywork in a story published last week:

"Today, a company called Sywork (shorthand for 'Show Your Work') launched its new live-streaming service for artists and illustrators. Ever wonder what the process is behind beautiful oil paintings? Comic books? Well now you can find out, thanks to this YC-backed company.

Each artist has their own channel, which you can subscribe to of course, and you’re notified when they’re live. A few of the illustrators I’ve watched have been heads down making things, with music bumping in the background. Much like Twitch, there’s a chatroom to the right, where people who are watching talk about what they’re seeing."

Read the full story, including an interview with Sywork co-founder Marcelo Echeverria, on TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.

bitcodin (YC S15) Encodes Videos 100X Faster, At Netflix-Grade Streaming Quality

Not only is the quantity of online videos booming, our expectations for what's acceptable streaming video quality keep going up too.  All this has created a problem for content creators and developers, who need to encode videos very fast, at full HD quality, for streaming in multiple formats on every device. And the bottleneck is only going to get worse in the future, as 4K/UHD TVs start to hit the mainstream.

bitcodin is a company in our current class that has created a solution to this problem, with a service that encodes videos 100x faster and at a higher quality than other transcoding services.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about bitcodin in a post last week:

"Bitcodin says it enables fast playback of videos, optimizes the streaming quality, and supports buffering. It claims that it’s going to be able to provide video encoding at speeds a hundred times faster than similar services, while also providing Netflix-grade quality streaming.

Developers interested in tapping into this platform can go to Bitcodin’s website to sign up. All they need to do is upload a video file and select the output format, such as MPEG-DASH at 1080p. From there, the service does all the work and will spit out a new video file that can play on every device.

Perhaps the best news is that when the resulting videos play, they do so without any additional technology or software. That’s right, you won’t need Flash or Silverlight installed. It’s compliant with the same streaming standards that Netflix and YouTube follow. Interestingly, these standards, both with MPEG and MPEG-DASH online video streaming, were formed thanks to contributions from Bitcodin’s founders Stefan Lederer, Christopher Mueller, and Christian Timmerer."

Read more about bitcodin in VentureBeat here, and in Hacker News here.

Convox (YC S15) Makes It Easier For Companies To Use AWS

Every year, companies spend more than $15 billion on cloud-based infrastructure services such as Amazon Web Services. But despite those massive bills, companies still have to deal with a limited list of supported software and services, unpredictable uptime, and an extremely difficult experience while trying to debug apps that are running.

Convox is a company in our current class that helps take care of all those issues, promising to make AWS itself as easy to use as Heroku -- and five times cheaper. In 10 minutes, Convox allows you to configure and scale storage, servers, containers, load balancing, network security, and database on top of AWS without an ops team.

VentureBeat's Jordan Novet wrote about Convox in a story published this week:

"San Francisco-based Convox can boast that it knows all about operating infrastructure at scale — reliable Amazon infrastructure, at that — given its three founders’ experience at Heroku. [Convox CEO David] Dollar and fellow cofounder Noah Zoschke both joined Heroku in 2009. OpenDoor, that home-selling startup backed by superstar investors like Keith Rabois, Om Malik, and Naval Ravikant, recently moved its data science workloads from Heroku onto Convox.

...'Our job now is to bring the same Heroku-like experience to a more raw Amazon deployment,' Zoschke told VentureBeat. 'You shouldn’t have to worry about very much to take your application and put it on the Internet and deploy your first app instantly. That’s not the case on Amazon. It’s better than ever, but it still requires a tremendous amount of documentation."

Read the full story about Convox in VentureBeat here, and read a Hacker News discussion about Convox here.